There are numerous things that continue to surprise me as a therapist. I have worked with hundreds of sexual assault survivors for over ten years, and very few ever reported the assaults. There are numerous reasons for that, but one reason that continues to shock me is the shame these individuals feel in disclosing the assaults, and how many continue to think it was their fault.
While the legal ramification of the changes to Title IX are going to be significant and are very controversial, one thing for certain is that the change will decrease and in some cases, eradicate programs preventing sexual assault and counseling and support services for survivors. The current changes to Title IX is essentially going to add even more shame for survivors, and make it harder to get the support they deserve. While Title IX appears on the surface to be a legal battle over prosecuting rapists, there is actually much more to it. Many universities had no programs at all to support survivors of sexual assault and that was one of the things this portion of Title IX brought to places where it was taboo to speak of sexual assault. Because if there is no rape crisis center than there is no rape, right? That seemed to be the attitude many universities had before the guidelines in Title IX for addressing sexual assault were set in 2011.
The legal issues always seem to make the headlines, but what about the survivors healing and mental health, and ability to have a healthy, positive view on their own sexuality? So many survivors wait years upon years to disclose their assault because they truly do not know where to go. Keeping this shame inside has numerous long-term repercussion for survivors. One of them being a negative view of sex and their own sexuality. If your first sexual experience was negative and coerced, that is something that will stay with you, until you address the shame.
I have seen many survivors come to me thinking that they would never be able to enjoy sex, but with the right education and support they can truly have a positive sexual life. The overall repercussions of dismantling Title IX will not just be legal, but will affect how we as a society address issues related to promoting healthy sexuality.